Research papers on gender equality focus on the history and the current state of gender issues and equality in society. One of the most recent ways developed to advocate gender equality in the United States was Take Your Daughter (Son) to Work Day. In the tradition of true gender equality, what first began as a way to show young women that they can conquer a variety of positions, many at the time thought to be primarily male oriented, now has swept the nation and includes not only young women but young men as well. This allows the children to see the varying types of position available and also allowed the parents and other relatives to teach their children that these positions are available to everyone no matter the gender. Take your child to work day, has shown children of all ages how they do not have to take positions within the gender stereotypes and has opened the door to many that would otherwise have been shut. This does not only stand true for the daughters but also for the sons who want to take more traditional women oriented positions such as nursing and secretarial work.
Gender equality within the workplace has come a long way but there are still steps that need to be taken to ensure that gender no longer plays a role in the following:
- The types of positions women are offered.
- Wages that do not include equal pay.
- Promotions that are received but that the women and men within each position are judged on the professional abilities and achievements.
Many times, when talking about gender equality, the focus is on the women. This is because of many years; women have been the minority within the workforce, in fact within the whole of the public sphere. It has only been within the last century that women have obtained the right to vote and have won other fights for equality within the United States. Women have only been included as a major contributor to the workforce and the household budget since the end of World War II. This created an atmosphere where gender equality did focus more on the women.
Women entering the workforce did not become mainstream until the Depression and the Second World War. Before this time, women and men had extremely different social roles. Women were mostly in the domestic sphere, taking care of the household chores and raising the children, only exerting their power through their relationship with their husbands. Men were expected to work and make the money that was to run the household. It was not until the economic crisis of the Depression that these roles changed out of necessity. Before a household could be run on the salary of the primary male but the Depression destroyed the economic security of many families. Women were forced to enter the workforce for the first time in order to be able to supplement the wages of the men. During this time, the government enacted many changes within the economic system that also affected gender issues including the enactment of Social Security that granted money for retirees and their wives.
Yet, it was not until the crisis brought by World War II, that women truly embraced leaving the household for the public sphere. The federal government encouraged women to pick up the positions left vacant by the men who went off to war. While before, women were thought to only be able to do certain positions, such as administrative, teaching, and nursing, this particular time in history showed that women could do any job that the men could do. Rosie the Riveter was an icon that encouraged women in this regard. Women became part of the Armed Forces during this time as well with the induction of the WACs, WAVEs, SPARs, and other levels of the military to train women.
The problem was that when the war was over, the men believed that the women should give up their positions and go back to the domestic sphere. Yet, the social structure of the nation had changed completely. Once many women were shown and showed the world that they could be successful within positions formally thought to be for men, these women were unwilling to settle for life in the domestic sphere only. This caused a social shift and slowly women began to gain rights within the workplace.
The growth of the feminist movement in the 1960s to early 1980s was focused on gender equality in the workplace. Long held ideas such as women leaving the workplace once they had children to raise was challenged and this push changed not only laws to benefit women but also socially changed the structure of the business world, allowing for more accommodations for women within the working sphere. While the stereotype had always been that women would get pregnant and leave the workforce thus making hiring a women not as advantageous as hiring a man, with the changes involved in the social sphere, this changed as well. One primary example is the induction of the maternity leave. Because there are some things that men still cannot do, such as carry and deliver a baby, the business world needed to change in order to accommodate this period in the life of a woman. Birth control also contributed indirectly to the ability of a woman within the work sphere because it allowed the woman to choose when to have children.
Within the last thirty years, there has been a complete shift of focus on gender equality within the work place. This is because of the changes in thinking that took place within the several decades prior allowing for new generations to have completely different ideas of what gender equality is and the roles that men and women play within society. While women still carry on the bulk of the responsibility within the domestic sphere, within the business realm, women play more major roles and the glass ceiling that was once definite has broken in many areas. This should be taken with a grain of salt thought because there are plenty of positions where women still do not have much input including politics and science. Women often, actually have two positions now, one of mother and wife, and one of career woman.
Yet, even within the domestic sphere, that is changing with men taking on more roles of women. In many households, women who are making more money than their husbands are opting to continue in their positions while their husbands stay at home and take care of more of the domestic duties. This shows the shift in gender equality. Unfortunately, not everything has changed. In a recent study, it has been shown that men still make more money than women. Stereotypes such as the idea that women will not want to work when they have children also hinders the gender equality movement within the work sphere